EC Reviews: An Executive Country Review on Turkey - Pharmaceutical Technology

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PharmTech Europe

EC Reviews: An Executive Country Review on Turkey
In the wake of economic growth, healthcare reforms, and large-scale industry investment, Turkish pharmaceutical companies are charting their own destiny.

Pharmaceutical Technology
Volume 32, Issue 10, pp. 94-103

From Local to Global

Profile: Sanovel

Ahmet Toksöz, (All photos are courtesy of EC Reviews.)
Twenty-five years since its inception, Sanovel has quickly emerged as one of Turkey's generics giants. With the country's second largest pharma sales force—1200 people—the company devotes aggressive sales and marketing attention to a portfolio of more than 150 products in critical therapeutic areas, especially chronic diseases. Approximately 75% of Sanovel's $300 million sales in 2007 were based on the company's 10 leading products, including the anti-inflammatory blockbuster "Majezik," the cholesterol-lowering agent "Ator," and the proton pump inhibitor, "Lansor."

"We are like a multinational in that our top 10 products are group leaders and even sometimes we surpass the sales of multinational companies," says Ahmet Toksöz, a Sanovel board member.

In 2006, the company completed a new 430,000-ft2 production site, enabling expansion into Turkey's neighboring markets such as Georgia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Uzbekistan. In January 2009, Toksöz says he expects to break ground on a new biotech facility that will symbolize the company's first entry into high-tech medicine.

Sanovel has agreements with companies to register products in Europe through its holding company in The Netherlands and subsidiaries in France and Germany. Toksöz says Sanovel plans to explore acquiring European companies. For now, however, the company's growth strategy is to establish a sales and marketing presence in emerging foreign markets worldwide.

"We prefer our own sales force because it's better to keep your concentration on your culture in your marketing strategies," says Toksöz. "We can compete with most local and even European companies production-wise, capacity-wise, and cost-wise."

Turkey's Triple Threat

Profile: The Birgi Group

Mustafa Birgi, (All photos are courtesy of EC Reviews.)
Hitting the Turkish market more than 40 years ago as a leading producer of empty ampoules and glass syringes, The Birgi Group has developed into a preferred toll-manufacturing partner with warehousing and distribution capabilities.

Still producing tubular glass containers through its packaging company, Birgi, and making small- and medium-volume parenterals through Mefar, it has established relationships with nearly 50 companies, including Pfizer (New York), GlaxoSmithKline (London), and Turkish powerhouses Eczacibasi and Abdi Ibrahim. Since 2006, the Birgi Mefar Group has offered logistics and warehousing services through its third company, Defar.

"All of our companies are part of the production circle," says Group Chairman Mustafa Birgi. "They go very well with each other and we have a lot of synergies, having everything done in-house."

Birgi has had a presence in foreign markets such as Germany since 1969 and it currently exports nearly 35% of its primary packaging production. Mefar expects to increase exports as it continues shifting manufacturing operations into a new, EU-approved facility. "Our name is well known in the Western world," says Birgi.

By the end of next year, Mefar's new site should be running at a full annual capacity of 250-plus million units, providing a significant boost to the group, which earned $60 million in 2007.


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